I was about to register for the Writers' Digest NYC conference, mostly for the chance to pitch my novel to agents. Pitching seems like a very efficient way to meet agents and see if they're a good fit for me and my work. But in searching your blog for references to conferences, it seems that you hate pitch sessions and consider them a poor way to make contact with agents.
Would you recommend the WD Conference (or are there better ones) or would I be better off spending my time looking at agent directories and sending queries to those who seem appropriate?
I'm not sure why spending hundreds of dollars and hours of time waiting in line to pitch an agent seems more efficient than emailing a query, but maybe I'm missing something.
I think pitching is the least effective thing you can do at a conference.
Here are some things that I think are more effective:
A good writing conference has panel discussions (with agents and editors) and you'll learn a lot just from listening. Plus, you'll also have a chance to ask questions at the end of the panel, and that can be useful as well.
Agents also are usually pretty willing to answer questions after a panel (if they're short and don't require that us know much about your work.)
Example: My novel is 65K, and a YA thriller. Is the word count ok?
Example: Your website says you're closed to queries except by referral. Does coming to this writing conference or pitching you here count as a referral?
And when I'm at a conference you can usually find me at the bar, and I'll pretty much answer any question if it comes with a shot of bourbon.
Q: I'm getting a lot of rejections on my query. I don't know why.
A: Do you have your query with you? Show me.
Writing conferences are good for a lot of other things not related to pitching as well.